Lower Cape Fear Hospice
Hospice. It’s an essential resource people don’t often talk about, and many people may not know about it, until they need it for themselves or a loved one.
Hospice helps patients and their families cope with advanced illness by providing pain relief and symptom management. It makes the last days of life a little easier and helps people live with dignity by creating an atmosphere of peace and respect. It encourages communication and promotes family bonding. And when life is over for the patient, the family is supported through professional bereavement programs and counseling.
About 95 percent of hospice patients are served in their places of residence, either at their home or an assisted living or nursing facility. Those who are in need of intensive comfort care may qualify for a short-term stay at a hospice inpatient facility.
The regional Lower Cape Fear Hospice (LCFH), a nonprofit, is a shining example of this end-of-life resource. It has three hospice care centers in Bolivia, Whiteville and Wilmington.
Each day LCFH serves more than 750 hospice and palliative care patients in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties in North Carolina and Horry, Georgetown and Marion counties in South Carolina. That amounts to more than 4,800 patients served annually.
LCFH’s Brunswick County care center, SECU Hospice House of Brunswick, is thriving, thanks in great part to volunteers and donors.
Since the hospice care center opened in Bolivia in June 2012, there has been an outpouring of donor and volunteer support for both the facility and the services provided for patients in their residences. In 2014, 155 volunteers in Brunswick County collectively contributed a total of more than 10,000 hours.
Many volunteers regularly visit with a patient and soon become friends. Others make meals for families and visitors to the Bolivia facility. Still others provide special services for patients. One woman paints nails. Another plays a harp by bedsides. A licensed massage therapist gives massages to patients and the caregivers in the patients’ homes. There is also a series of programs and initiatives specifically designed to meet the unique needs of veterans and their families.
But according to Haylie Long, community outreach coordinator for Brunswick County, LCFH can always use more volunteers, especially men.
“We would like to have a man visit with the men, but we don’t have enough men volunteers,” Long says, adding they welcome “anybody who has an interest in people and wants to help.”
LCFH offers a 12-hour training program for volunteers. Training is typically divided up into three or four sessions during a week.This course is offered several times a year.
For each at-home visit, the volunteer is given contact numbers for the patient’s nurse, social worker and caregiver, if the caregiver chooses to leave the house during their visit. Recognizing that sometimes a volunteer might feel uncomfortable visiting someone in hospice, longtime volunteer and LCFH Foundation Trustee Dave Pearce offers this advice: “Patients understand their own condition and really just want to talk about the same things they have always been interested in, whether that is sports or family or church or even politics. Just be yourself and be their friend.”
SECU Hospice House of Brunswick is a state-of-the-art facility with a reception area and volunteer receptionist, a nicely furnished living room complete with a fireplace and a piano, a modern dining room, a bereavement room, office space and a conference room with a seating capacity of 60 people.
The inpatient care center has seven private patient/family suites, each with a daybed so a family member can spend the night comfortably. Each room looks out onto a patio and lovely garden. There are also small rooms where family members can get away for some quiet private time and a fully equipped playground in the backyard for younger visitors.
Individual volunteers, churches, clubs and organizations provide lunches and dinners for family members every day of the week. These Meals of Love are prepared elsewhere and brought to the facility.
Long encourages people who may have a need for this facility to stop by for a visit.. She also suggests that “family members be proactive in initiating the conversation about their loved one’s options for future care and needs before the need becomes immediate.”
The Lower Cape Fear Hospice Foundation raises funds to help keep LCFH and its facilities operating. While Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans have a hospice benefit, many patients will have some out-of-pocket expenses. However, as a nonprofit organization LCFH will serve anyone regardless of their ability to pay.
The foundation relies on grants, donations and fundraising activities to fund LCFH capital projects, facility operating costs, palliative care services, community outreach, education and training programs, and bereavement services for adults and children.
For gifts totaling $1,000 or more, a tile is hand-inscribed and dedicated in memory of or in honor of a loved one. Each tile is placed on the Impressions tile wall inside the Brunswick hospice care center. Tiles represent the sky, sand and sea, denoting impressions each person leaves on lives around them. LCFH periodically hosts meaningful and touching ceremonies to dedicate these tiles and mount them on a wall with all the others to form a wave.
In encouraging others to consider giving money to or volunteering with LCFH, Pearce wrote the following in November 2012: “Please think about two points. First, take the time to understand the hospice choices in Brunswick County. Use this knowledge to guide your charitable giving – as well as to guide your personal choice should the need for hospice arise. Second, consider becoming a hospice volunteer. It’s a flexible supplement to a busy schedule of golf, boating and fishing. My life has been enriched by the people I have served.”
Want to help?
Volunteers and donations are always needed. For more information or to become a volunteer, contact Haylie Long at (910) 515-5038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lower Cape Fear Hospice’s website is www.lcfh.org.
The SECU Hospice House of Brunswick is at 955 Mercy Lane SE in Bolivia. The phone number is (910) 754-5356.